Final winter tyre evaluation  

Posted on May 26th, 2015 by Rob Marshall

winterIt may seem odd that, here we are approaching June, and I have only just managed to remove my cold weather tyres. There are several reasons for this; not only did my new all-season replacements take over a month to arrive but also early spring’s unseasonable warmth gave way to a rather cooler conditions afterwards, which delayed the swap.

Now that sub-seven degree Celsius ground temperatures are no longer common on early morning and late afternoon commutes, I have removed the cold weather tyres and can offer a conclusion, based on the last 5,000 miles of motoring.

Without a doubt, the Continental ContiWinterContact TS850 covers have offered superior grip in the colder conditions. However, in very icy weather, other drivers (including me) tend to tailor their driving to the conditions but, when cocooned within a warm interior, with the outside air temperature a few degrees above zero, there is little clue given that the ground might be frozen. It was reassuring to know that the car’s anti-skid technology has a better chance of working effectively, if called upon in an emergency, thanks to the superior grip offered by the rubber compound that has not stiffened in the cold.

However, compared to my all-weather tyres, I have noticed that the Continental’s tended to lose pressure more speedily all-round and required more frequent air top-ups. A representative from Continental tyres told me that this is unexpected and stated that air pressure in a tyre tends to decrease between 1-2psi for every 10 degrees Celsius of temperature change. I heeded his advice of having a local tyre retailer check out the tyres but nothing untoward was found.

As predicted, the tyre wear rate has slowed, since the first 1,000 miles report and, in the 5,000 miles total, the tyres have lost between 1.1 and 1.7mm of tread, depending on where the measurements were taken, Therefore, I conclude that the Continental ContiWinterContact TS850 tyres are not only lasting well but also not wearing out faster than would be reasonably expected, compared with a premium all-season tyre.

Apart from the initial expense involved with buying the tyres last autumn and, possibly, an extra set of rims, I think that investing in a set of cold weather tyres is worth it, particularly if your driving consists of early morning and late evening commuting during winter and early spring.